Joint Replacement: MIS vs Robots
For years, joint replacements have helped patients move better and experience less pain. The procedure involves removing the cartilage and bone of a damaged joint, then inserting a prosthesis. Joint replacements are common on large, functional joints like the knee, hip, shoulder, and ankle. In the past, surgeons made large incisions several inches long to perform the procedure. However, with minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and robotic-arm-assisted joint replacement, this is no longer the only option. Both approaches have fantastic benefits, but robotic-arm surgery may have a slight advantage in recovery.
All About MIS
Minimally invasive surgery involves the surgeon making multiple small incisions to operate. The scope, a unique fiberoptic device with a camera at the end, is inserted, allowing the surgeon to see the damaged joint from an external monitor. The next step involves inserting small tools to replace the joint. MIS has several benefits. The patient can get a joint replacement on an outpatient basis. There is also less post-operative pain, more minor scars, and faster recovery than open surgery.
The power of technology
Robotic-arm-assisted joint replacement offers all the benefits of MIS but takes the surgery to another beneficial level. This process uses a unique device with 1 or more mechanical arms attached to the end. The surgeon uses an external console and a monitor to direct the robotic arms to perform the surgery. Before joint replacement, the medical team will prepare the prosthetic to meet the specific needs of the patient. This extra step ensures the robotic arm places the joint replacement in the correct location. Moreover, robotic-arm-assisted surgery increases surgeon accuracy and speed.
Both procedures provide the patient with a faster recovery time than open surgery. Since the incisions are as small as buttonholes, the initial recovery time is shorter. The patient can also start physical therapy (PT) quickly and use the joint sooner than expected. There’s also less post-operative pain, allowing the patient to use less pain medication and be more active.
The faster approach
Robotic-arm-assisted surgery may have faster recovery times than MIS. The surgery has additional preparation of the joint, which improves accuracy. Therefore, the patient gets accustomed to the joint faster than MIS. Additionally, robotic surgery may be part of a rapid recovery process. The patient will start PT exercises in the weeks leading up to surgery. Studies show patients choosing the robotic route can return to work and normal activities in 4-8 weeks, while MIS can take longer. This difference can be a game-changer for patients who do not have enough downtime from work or want to resume activities as soon as possible.
Make the right choice for you
Both procedures are an excellent choice for people who require joint replacement. The minimally invasive process means patients can use an outpatient center and return to normal activities quickly. However, the accuracy and planning of robotic-arm-assisted procedures provide an advantage.